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Role of the CWP

22. The CWP supported by the participating organizations has served since 1960 as the premier international and inter-organization forum for agreeing common definitions, classifications and standards for the collection of fishery statistics. It has developed common procedures for statistics collation which have streamlined the collation process and reduced the burden on national fisheries statistical offices. It has provided technical advice on fishery statistical matters to participating organizations and has facilitated the publication of methodological and reference documents. In the process it has shaped the statistical programmes of all participating organizations to some extent, and those of FAO in particular, while leaving organizations with complete autonomy in their area of responsibility.

23. By integrating and coordinating the statistical programmes among organizations, the CWP made possible the standardization of statistical reporting systems, resulting in the adoption of a reduced number of questionnaires. The work has brought an improvement of both the quantity and quality of fishery statistics and has facilitated the timely submission of statistical data from national offices to the organizations. While the CWP has confined its attention to the development and improvement of Atlantic fishery statistics, its procedures and concepts have served as models for fishing areas elsewhere.

24. Catch and effort data have been collected for different major fishing areas in the Atlantic using questionnaires applying common classifications and definitions and designed to a common style but tailored to the particular needs of the relevant regional fisheries organization. This reduces the burden on countries completing questionnaires for more than one major fishing area by applying common systems and standards. For example, conventions as to the reporting of catches by country in relation to joint venture fishing operations or vessel chartering can be applied universally.

25. The catch and effort questionnaires developed by the CWP, originally called STANA and now called STATLANT, are despatched (together with instructions for completion) by FAO on behalf of the regional fishery organizations to the relevant national authorities. The CWP made a major contribution to the specification of measures of fishing effort by gear type.

26. STATLANT A questionnaires are used for reporting annual nominal catch by species and by statistical sub-area, division or sub-division. STATLANT B questionnaires are used for reporting fishing effort by month, vessel size class, gear and statistical sub-area, division or subdivision and together with associated catch by species. In some cases the species sought (target species) are also specified.

27. STATLANT A and B questionnaires have been used by CCAMLR to collate statistics for major fishing areas 48, 58 and 88 (Southern Oceans), by NAFO for area 21 (Northwest Atlantic), by ICES for area 27 (Northeast Atlantic), by CECAF for area 34 (Eastern Central Atlantic), and by GFCM for area 37 (Mediterranean and Black Sea). Despite the fact that the Regional Fisheries Advisory Commission for the Southwest Atlantic (CARPAS) has not convened a meeting since 1974 and ICSEAF has been dissolved, FAO still despatches STATLANT 41A, 47A and 47B questionnaires and stores the returns; however, not much use is being made of these now and the CWP will need to consider whether continuation of the STATLANT 41 and 47 reporting systems can be justified. Eurostat requested submissions of catch statistics from EU Member States on STATLANT questionnaires and these questionnaires have been translated into EU legislation.

28. Changes in the nature of the fisheries and in the needs of users of fishery statistics necessitate frequent reviews of the statistical systems. For example, the STATLANT B reporting system is no longer providing appropriate data for stock assessment purposes in some areas; it has been terminated for the Northeast Atlantic and is under review for the Mediterranean.

29. The FISHSTAT reporting system is used by FAO to collate global statistics on catch and production from over 220 countries for over 1,000 species of aquatic organisms of significant commercial importance in all inland and marine fishing areas. It is run in parallel with the STATLANT system in areas where the latter is operated. CWP has also concerned itself with reconciling the catch data held by the regional fishery organizations with the FAO FISHSTAT data.

30. The CWP at its Fifteenth Session considered the problems associated with the collection of fishery statistics but which are accentuated for the high seas (e.g. flags of convenience, transshipments, landings into foreign ports, processing at sea) and noted the particular need for special effort and collaboration among national authorities, regional and international organizations to ensure complete and accurate reporting of high seas data. At its Sixteenth Session the CWP considered in some detail the problem of unreliable catch statistics and their implications and how the reliability of catch statistics could be improved.

31. The CWP has also contributed to the elaboration of a definition of aquaculture and agreed a common questionnaire (FISHSTAT AQ) for the reporting of aquaculture statistics to FAO and to some of the regional fishery organizations. It was also involved in designing a single inquiry undertaken by FAO on recreational fisheries.

32. The CWP agreed concepts, definitions and classifications for fishing fleet statistics including the International Standard Statistical Classification of Fishing Vessels (ISSCFV). At its Fifteenth Session the CWP recognized the shortcomings in reported fleet statistics and urged countries to pay particular attention to improving them. The FAO fleet statistics programme was reviewed at the Sixteenth Session.

33. In its earlier Sessions, the CWP devoted a considerable amount of attention to systems for the collection of commodity and trade statistics, as well as statistics on the disposition of catches. However, in later Sessions with the emphasis shifting more towards coordinating the statistical systems of the regional fishery organizations, commodity, trade and disposition statistics have been considered less despite the Edinburgh Conference having emphasised their importance and the fact that they can often be used for verification of catch statistics, as was stressed by the Technical Consultation on High Seas Fishing (Rome, 7-15 September 1992; paragraph 28). Although commodity, trade and disposition statistics have not recently been the subject of much consideration by the CWP, issues in relation to consumption statistics based on food balance sheets which utilise those statistics, have been addressed. Some organizations (e.g. ICCAT) are using trade data in conjunction with certification of origin to verify catch data for certain species, and NASCO has considered the value of certificates of origin in relation to the problem of fishing for salmon in international waters by non-contracting Parties.

34. Similarly, not much attention has been devoted to data series that are of interest to only some of the participating organizations (e.g. employment statistics).

35. The CWP has also considered ancillary issues such as standard formats to facilitate the exchange of data using electronic media, preparation of the Handbook of Fishery Statistics which is published in English, French and Spanish, and collation by FAO of conversion factors for the estimation of live weight from landed weight.

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